Autumn Sights on Lake County's Trails 2022

By: Nick Borowitz 10/21/2022

Do you have all the fall feels? Do you enjoy staying active and hitting the trails in the preserves of Lake County? By taking on theLake County Forest Preserves District (LCFPD) #HikeLakeCounty challenge, you get all the autumn sights on the trails of Lake County 2022. Take to the trails and preserves of Lake County and witness the fruits of what Mother Nature gives us in Lake County: tall trees, winding paths, serene bodies of water, the creatures and critters and the picturesque plant life.






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Lake County is home to hundreds of miles of trails for you to explore! So whether you're looking for a quick hike or a more challenging distance on a two-wheeler, there are trails for all fitness levels just waiting for you. Ready. Set. Go and see all the autumn sights on the trails of Lake County. While burning those calories, don't forget to achieve your fall feels: bike, hike and view the Lake County colors!

#HikeLakeCounty Challenge (Through November 30)






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Stay active and experience the trails of the Lake County Forest Preserves District (LCFPD) as part of the Hike Lake County program. Check the trailheads for the Hike Lake County logo when you prepare to embark. Complete at least seven designated trails that bare the program's logo and add them to your hiking log. Download the trail log at and track your distances. Successful completion of the challenge awards hikers a commemorative medallion. Dogs are welcome to join you, too, but you and your canine companion must stay on pet-friendly trails. If you complete the Hike Lake County challenge with your pooch, they will earn a commemorative dog tag. Trail logs can be submitted online or in person at the general office in Libertyville or the Brushwood Center in Riverwoods. Biking and horse trail travel are prohibited on the Hike Lake County challenge. Visit for travel logs and challenge information. Hike Lake County runs through November 30. Listed below are the 12 trails that count toward the challenge.

Greenbelt Forest Preserve in North Chicago

The preserve offers five miles of trails for hiking, four miles of trails for bicycling and a one-mile self-guided nature trail. The North Chicago trail has an abundance of birds, wildflowers and landscapes. This preserve is dog-friendly.

Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville






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Centered around a 115-acre lake, this preserve offers a variety of surrounding prairie and woodlands providing a picturesque backdrop for hiking and biking opportunities. Roughly 6.25 miles of trails circle the lake and run through scenic natural areas. Independence Grove is home to gravel and combo paved and gravel trails.

Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods

Over 6.5 miles of scenic trails wind through woods to the Des Plaines River. Trails at the Riverwoods LCFPD entity are open for hiking and cross-country skiing when snow is at least four inches deep. These gravel pathways and trails lead past historic buildings, next to the Des Plaines River and into a woodland dense enough to block out most human-made noises.

Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve in Long Grove






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Take in the sights of over 5.5 miles of wide-open spaces. The trails in this preserve run through open areas, through several creeks skirting the reservoir, and traverse through the restored prairie. The expansive 408-acre preserve is easy to explore and offers ample amenities to make any hiking a refreshing endeavor. This preserve is dog-friendly.

Grant Woods Forest Preserve in Ingleside

With six miles of trails, you can be sure you're getting the steps in. This forest preserve occupies 1,226 acres and it shows. There is a one-mile grass trail and in the winter, 4.5 miles of trails open up for snowmobilers. Grant Woods features numerous entry and exit points to let you pick the distance you want. This preserve is dog-friendly.

Hastings Lake Forest Preserve in Lake Villa

Make use of four miles of paved and gravel trails that winds through a variety of area. You will pass through open fields, woodlands, stately trees and wetlands. This trail features various amenities if you ever need a breather or want to take in the autumn sights on the trails of Lake County. There are multiple entry/exit points to let you pick your distance. This preserve is dog-friendly.

Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda

This preserve is Lake County's largest preserve and sits on 2,835 acres. An abundance of trails makes it easy to get the necessary distance for the #HikeLakeCounty challenge. The trails cut in and out with the Millenium Trail and Fort Hill Trail. These connections allow for safe passage underneath Route 176 and Fairfield Road.

Marl Flat Forest Preserve in Round Lake






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Marl Flat Forest Preserve is a unique section within the #HikeLakeCounty challenge. There are no preserve trails within the area, but it does act as a connecting system with a one-mile trail that is a part of the Millenium Trail. This preserve is dog-friendly.

Old School Forest Preserve in Mettawa

Old School Forest is one of the more popular preserves, according to the LCFPD. It features a 2.7-mile trail loop that explores woods and prairies. The circle comprises a 1.2-mile fitness trail and a 1.5-mile paved roadway trail. The fitness trail features workout stations that build strength and endurance. This preserve is dog-friendly.

Spring Bluff Forest Preserve in Winthrop Harbor

Spring Bluff Forest Preserve sits on 229 acres in Winthrop Harbor. The 0.7-mile recreational trail connects to other Lake County trails at adjacent Illinois Beach State Park. While passing through, stop and observe the 360-degree viewing deck to see what you can spot! This preserve is dog-friendly.

Van Patten Woods Forest Preserve in Wadsworth

Van Patten Woods features five miles of trails and intersects the Des Plaines River Trail. There are multiple entries and exit points. As you move along the trail, stop and take in the sights the forest preserve provides. Sterling Lake is almost like a mirror at the right time of day. This preserve is dog-friendly.

Raven Glen Forest Preserve in Antioch

Raven Glen Forest Preserve sits on 33 acres of rolling hills and scenic vistas. Raven Glen features 6.8 miles of trails: 4.5 miles of trail for hiking and cross-country skiing, 2.8 miles for biking and four miles of trails for horseback riding (including a 1.3-mile grass trail separated from the gravel biking trail). In addition, a pedestrian tunnel under Route 45 connects Raven Glen to the neighboring 501-acre Ethel's Woods Forest Preserve. This preserve is dog-friendly.

Ethel's Woods Forest Preserve in Antioch

Ethel's Woods Forest Preserve in Antioch features 1.6 miles of trails through a picturesque landscape. Four scenic overlooks let you take advantage of the gently rolling hills and offer unobstructed views of the preserve. A short Millenium Trail section runs on the preserve's western edge. The pedestrian tunnel under Route 45 connects Ethel's Woods to Raven Glen. This preserve is dog-friendly.

Wild Card Pick a Trail

Pick any two-mile trail in the Lake County Forest Preserves for your wild card. Since there are so many ways to see the autumn sights on the trails of Lake County, we went ahead and listed some of the forest preserve trails that you should check out!

More Lake County Trails

Des Plaines River Trail in Lake County






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This trail is about convenience because no matter where you are in Lake County, you're probably not far from the Des Plaines River Trail. It runs the entire north/south length of the county. The trail offers absolutely stunning views and runs from the Wisconsin border, through 31.4 miles of Lake County and down into Cook County, including 12 Lake County Forest Preserves. In addition, it links other trails like the North Shore Bike Path, the McClory Trail and the Millennium Trail. Beautiful throughout the year, this trail connects our favorite destinations on the north end, like Van Patten Woods, Wadsworth Savanna, Sedge Meadow, Lake Carina and Independence Grove. The trail and greenway are protected land. More than 85 percent of the river is in the land of lakes, providing wildlife habitat, natural flood protection and outdoor recreation viewing and play opportunities.

Illinois Beach State Park in Zion






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Experience the scenic views of Lake Michigan's stunning shoreline and experience some of Lake County's most pristine outdoor spaces. Within this 4,160-acre park, you can hike the north end of the park on a graveled 2.2-mile loop trail that brings you through the prairie, the forest and, of course, the sandy beaches. Start in the Zion visitor center's parking lot on the park's south side and follow the route south. Discover a world outside your own on top of the lookout platforms along the way. Stop along the beach at the end of mile marker 1 to enjoy Lake Michigan's beautiful sights before continuing on the trail.

Chain O'Lakes State Park in Antioch and Spring Grove






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The Spring Grove area is one of the two-state parks in Lake County (the other one is Illinois Beach State Park). Choose from four trail systems! For a brief and relaxing stroll while you see the autumn sights on the trails of Lake County, try the Nature's Way hiking trail by Oak Grove Picnic Area, which stretches 2.25 miles, while the Pike Marsh in the North Picnic Area has a mini trail running a mere .25 miles long. There is also an equestrian trail with three loops running eight miles. The opportunities are endless, as you can choose the popular biking/hiking trail for a six-mile hike. FYI, bird watching is everything at the Spring Grove state park. Continue here to learn more about our flying friends.

Millennium Trail and Greenway in Mundelein






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